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More affordable solutions will drive housekeeping spends

Ralph Sunil

With a bird’s eye view of the FM sector, Ralph Sunil, Group Head, Facilities Management Services, GMR Group analyses how and why housekeeping budgets are set to increase in the coming year.

Apart from cleanliness, budgets will revolve around wellness, safety and health. Everyone will use the best of sanitisers, disinfectants, surface cleaners etc., not in terms of brand but efficacy. In the past two years, everyone has determined what products work best for them. Prices have rationalised and stabilised, which will help everybody.

People will plan to use products and equipment that are self-reliant and not too dependent on human intervention. I am driving a program called MAD, which stands for Mechanisation, Automation and Digitalisation. Most people have realised that instead of spending money on supervisory staff, the MAD concept can achieve the same goals at a lesser price.

When automation first came to India, large investments were required for retrofitting or importing machines. Today, Atmanirbhar products are being manufactured in India itself. Sensors have become so much more affordable. In the housekeeping field too, everyone is planning for automation.

The subscription model or rental model of accessing products and technology has made advanced solutions financially viable for a wider range of players.

Today, every person in the industry is working on improving indoor air quality, right from putting filters in their HVAC system to increasing CFM to a faster mode, so that there will be more air changes in a particular space. Both natural ventilation and technology-based interventions will be relied upon. Sensors and dashboards which automatically measure air quality are going to become part and parcel of any Building Management System.

For large companies and facilities with many end-users, housekeeping spends will definitely increase. Not by a massive amount, but around 15% on average. Some sectors which can afford more or need to do more will spend more e.g. the hospitality sector.

Earlier, every client would have an employee dedicated to supervising the service provider’s team. Today, that position is being done away with, and the service provider’s unit head serves as the facilities manager of the client organisation as well.

Service providers have to be versatile and offer multimodal services; they will need to gear up to offer many more services. Like in airlines, they may offer luxury, premium and standard services, and clients can choose depending on their requirements. Based on cost, profit margins and what the client wants, service providers will bring in services and equipment for each category. I already know of a few companies that are specialising in luxury cleaning or wellness cleaning.

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